PNRC-Zamboanga celebrates IHL with a call Even Wars Have Limit PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 September 2012 00:00

For whatever reasons for the cause of war, there is a limit to it. One just don’t kill or destroy one another for the sake of killing – this in inhumane. Even Wars Have Limit – this is the call or theme of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Day celebration last August 12, 2012. It also commemorated the signing of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

In Zamboanga City, the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) –Zamboanga Chapter observed this day with a grand parade, a hip hop contest, and human formation of the IHL letters at the Joaquin Enriquez Grandstand. Thousands of people coming from different government agencies, schools, and socio-civic groups participated. It is said that Zamboanga IHL event was the biggest in the country.  What was notable too, more than a hundred thousand pesos pledges were made to support the projects of the local Red Cross Chapter.

I gathered that IHL Celebration objective is to increase public awareness on the basic principles of IHL and to promote its observance in times of armed conflict ( The Geneva Conventions specifically aims to protect people who are not taking part in the hostilities (civilians, health workers, and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war. The Conventions and their Protocols call for measures to be taken to prevent or put an end to all breaches. They contain stringent rules to deal with what are known as grave breaches. Those responsible for grave breaches must be sought, tried, or extradited, whatever nationality they may hold in an international court.

Basic rules of IHL (source: (1) Persons hors de combat (outside of combat) and those not taking part in hostilities shall be protected and treated humanely.(2) It is forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders or who is hors de combat. (3) The wounded and sick shall be cared for and protected by the party to the conflict which has them in its power. The emblem of the "Red Cross," or of the "Red Crescent," shall be required to be respected as the sign of protection. (4) Captured combatants and civilians must be protected against acts of violence and reprisals. They shall have the right to correspond with their families and to receive relief.(6) No one shall be subjected to torture, corporal punishment or cruel or degrading treatment.

(7) Parties to a conflict and members of their armed forces do not have an unlimited choice of methods and means of warfare. And (8) Parties to a conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants. Attacks shall be directed solely against military objectives.

Well-known examples of such rules include the prohibition on attacking doctors or ambulances displaying a Red cross. It is also prohibited to fire at a person or vehicle bearing a white flag, since that, being considered the flag of truce, indicates an intent to surrender or a desire to communicate. In either case, the persons protected by the Red Cross or the white flag are expected to maintain neutrality, and they may not engage in warlike acts themselves; in fact, engaging in war activities under a white flag or a red cross is itself a violation of the laws of war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is regarded as the “guardian” of the Geneva Conventions and the various other treaties that constitute international humanitarian law. It cannot, however, act as either policeman or judge. These functions belong to governments, the parties to international treaties, who are required to prevent and put an end to violation of IHL. They have also an obligation to punish those responsible of what are known as “grave breaches” of IHL or war crimes. (

By Dante Corteza